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Ten years ago, Gary Deering sat alone in the garden of the Custom House.

Ten years ago, Gary Deering sat alone in the garden of the Custom House.
Quietly, he observed the hands of the clock swing to 12.55pm the moment when mayhem had been unleashed on the elegant riverside structure that was the heartbeat of British rule in this country.
Dozens of volunteers had entered the building on May 25, 1921, armed with cans of paraffin and bales of cotton waste and axes to smash down doors.
It was a daring propaganda coup designed to keep the Irish story on the front pages of the worlds newspapers.
A lunchtime spectacular to show observers that Irish republicanism remained a force to be reckoned with despite the losses of the War of Independence, raging for almost two-and-a-half years by this point.
Éamon de Valera had done the maths, calculating that the loss of the Custom House would inflict a loss of £2m on the British exchequer around £100m (115m) today.
For years afterwards, the volunteers had staged their own annual commemoration of the event, starting with a mass in the chapel of Dublin Castle, but by the mid-1980s it had ceased, largely because so few were left.
In 2011, Gary Deering had come to the garden to honour his great-uncle, Johnny Wilson. Aged just 19, Johnny was charged with treason for his part in the burning of the Custom House.
By the following year, Mr Deering had been joined in the garden by a small group to commemorate the 91st anniversary, their numbers growing steadily each year.
Until, finally, the centenary, yesterday, was marked with proper State honours, with a minutes silence to recall that audacious assault that had signalled to the world that Dublin would no longer be an impoverished city in a global empire, said Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh OBrien, who laid a wreath on behalf of the State.
He acknowledged the high sacrifice paid by the Dublin Fire Brigade, which had offered crucial information to IRA volunteers and civilians caught in the crossfire.
There were nine victims in the skirmish that day as plumes of smoke rose into the Dublin skyline.
The civilian fatalities were John Byrne (27), shot as he cycled past the Custom House on the way home from work in Rathmines; James Connolly (50), a quay labourer shot at the rear of the Custom House; Francis James Miall Davis (62), resident caretaker in the Custom House; and Mahon Patrick Lawless (23), a clerk with the Local Government board at the Custom House. The IRA fatalities were Edward Christopher Dorins (23), a plumber with the Dublin Dock Yard Company shot by the crown forces; Séan Joseph Doyle (33), a bookmakers clerk; and Daniel Joseph Head (17), the youngest to be killed at the Custom House and who was a carpenter described as brave as a lion. The Reilly brothers Patrick (26), a clerk at Arnotts, and Stephen (19), who was a commercial traveller for newspapers, also lost their lives on behalf of the volunteers.
A wreath of laurels containing five white roses symbolising the lost volunteers was laid by Brian Parsons, grand-nephew of the OReilly brothers who lost their lives that day. He later told how their mother, Sidney, had gone to the morgue to identify Patrick but tragically, on the way, spotted Stephens body, having not realised that he, too, had been killed.
Next year, Brian plans on bringing his new grandson to the Custom House to continue the family link with the anniversary.
Another wreath for the four civilians was laid by Pauline Moynihan, cousin of John Byrne.
She spoke of her complex family history which saw Johns grand-uncle, James Byrne, awarded the Victoria Cross by the British Army in India, while his uncle Augustine Byrne had also fought for the British in the Boer War.
His cousin, meanwhile, became an active IRA volunteer. She described it as a sad irony that John was the only member of the family to die in conflict.
Irish people are inclined to forget the mixed history their families had. Its complicated, she said afterwards.
For many, joining the British Army was a way to provide for the family and to get a pension.
Aishling Flynn was there to honour her grandfather, Philip Flynn, who took part in the IRA operations at the Custom House. He was captured and sent to Kilmainham Gaol, but went on to fight in the Second World War for the British. Philips three surviving children watched yesterdays commemoration on TV.
Outside the railings stood Darryl Brunton, remembering his great-grandfather Patrick Brunton, a volunteer from Cabra, and James Gilsenan, honouring Pat Gilsenan, his fathers first cousin, whose family home was burned down by the Black and Tans in the Sack of Balbriggan in1920.
Both would have liked to stand in the grounds but numbers were limited due to Covid restrictions.
Afterwards, Mr OBrien spoke about plans to make the heritage building more accessible to the public, with a redeveloped visitor centre to open in September, while his department will examine how the grounds can be opened up.
Its a small piece of green in Dublin; it would be nice to be able to have people come in here to enjoy it, Mr OBrien said.